Plant Delights Nursery September 2014 Newsletter

Greetings PDN’ers!

PDN Fall Nursery News

We hope you’ve received your copy of the Fall 2014 Plant Delights Nursery catalog. Kudos to our graphic designer Shari Sasser at Sasser Studios for the catalog redesign and new look. Among other things, the fall catalog includes three new aucubas, six new crinum lilies, and twenty new fern offerings. These are a fraction of the many exciting new plants you’ll find either in the print version or online.

Hibiscus 'Kopper King' PP# 10,793

Hibiscus ‘Kopper King’ PP# 10,793

It’s always interesting for us to see what sells and what doesn’t. Top sellers from the fall catalog so far include, Adiantum venustumAgapanthus ‘White Heaven’Agave ‘Huasteca Giant’Agave ‘Shadow Dancer’Alstroemeria ‘Koice’Aster ‘Fanny’Begonia ‘Pewterware’Bouvardia ‘Scarlet Hummer’Canna ‘Pacific Beauty’Dryopteris erythrosora v. prolificaEchinacea ‘Fatal Attraction’Epimedium ‘Domino’,  Eucalyptus neglectaHeuchera ‘Citronelle’Hibiscus ‘Kopper King’Hibiscus ‘Midnight Marvel’Hosta ‘Orange Marmalade’Juniperus conferta ‘All Gold’Lespedeza ‘White Fountain’Ligularia ‘Chinese Dragon’Lilium formosanum Giant formOxalis ‘Francis’Patrinia scabiosifoliaPhlox ‘Peppermint Twist’Ruellia ‘Black Beauty’Salvia greggii ‘Teresa’, and Salvia ‘Golden Girl’.

Aspidistra crispa 'Golden Freckles'

Aspidistra crispa ‘Golden Freckles’

On the other end of the scale, plants which will be severely disciplined for not selling to this point include Aspidistra crispa ‘Golden Freckles’Aucuba ‘Sagama’Begonia henryi,Buddleia ‘Blue Chip Jr.’Buddleia ‘Pink Micro Chip’Choisya ‘Limo’Crinum x digweedii ‘Mermaid’Harpochloa falxLycoris x jacksoniana ‘Caldwell’s Rose’Ophiopogon ‘Tuff Tuft Lavender’Taxus bacatta ‘Aurescens Nana’, and Trismeria trifoliata. We know how well these plants perform, and how hard they auditioned just to earn a spot in the catalog. We really hope you’ll save these gems from the whips and chains of our growing staff and give ’em a try!

October Photography Class with Josh Taylor

Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, 8am–4pm
Garden Photography – Photo Capture and Processing with Josh Taylor

Photo Class

Photo Class

Learn how to get the best possible images from your camera and how to process your images in Lightroom with Photoshop/Photoshop Elements.

The morning focus of this all-day workshop will be on learning and getting reacquainted with your camera ISO settings, histogram, exposure compensation, shooting modes, bracketing, white balance, etc. You’ll spend 3 hours in the garden with your camera and the instructor.

The afternoon session will be devoted to post-processing with Lightroom using participants’ images for demonstrations. Register hereor call to register at 919-772-4794. See some examples of Josh’s work on his website: www.joshuataylorphotography.com.

Sweden & Germany 2014 Expedition Log

We’ve finally finished the online version of Tony’s expedition log from his trip to Germany and Sweden this spring…lots of cool plants, great gardens, and amazing people. If you’d like to travel along, enjoy the trek here.

Main building at the Munich Botanical Garden

Main building at the Munich Botanical Garden

Last Open Nursery and Garden Days for 2014 are Sept. 19-21

Grasshopper on Hibiscus 'Turn of the Century'

Grasshopper on Hibiscus ‘Turn of the Century’

This weekend, we’re putting the wraps on our final open nursery and garden days for 2014, so we hope you can make the trip to Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Garden to share the splendor of the fall gardens. Not only is there lots to see here in September, but our muscadine grape trials are ripe, so you can sample each variety while you’re here…or park your spouse under the grapevines to keep them from pestering you while you peruse the gardens and shop.

2015 Open Nursery and Garden Dates
Winter 2015
February 27 – March 1
March 6 – 8

Spring 2015
May 1 – 3
May 8 – 10

Summer 2015
July 10 – 12
July 17 – 19

Fall 2015
September 11 – 13
September 18 – 20

Fridays/Saturdays 8a-5p and Sundays 1-5p
Rain or Shine!     Free Parking
Click for more info

Juniper Level Botanic Garden

Juniper Level Botanic Garden

Fall is a fabulous time to plant!

In most parts of the country, it’s a fabulous time to plant…everything except agaves, echinaceas, bananas, and elephant ears (from Zone 7b north). North of us, just don’t plant anything marginally hardy in your zone as your first frost approaches and, in climates where the ground freezes in winter, allow enough time to get the roots anchored to keep the plants from heaving out of the ground.

Four months ago, we posted photos of our new four seasons garden that we’d just installed near our retail greenhouses. This section of the garden is now 16 weeks old, so we’d love for you to see what it looks like now and see how much it’s grown…a great demonstration why good organic soil preparation is so important and how much plants will grow when they’re properly cared for.

Four Seasons Garden - May 2014

Four Seasons Garden – May 2014

Four Seasons Garden - September 2014

Four Seasons Garden – September 2014

Nursery Industry News

PDN kudos to Plant Delights customer Allen Lacy, the founder and chief weed puller at the new Linwood Arboretum. Allen received some great publicity recently in an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer that we’d like to share.

We were also glad to see a recent article about our friend, the late Logan Calhoun, that just appeared in the Dallas News. Logan was a Plant Delights customer who shared many special plants that we still offer today…fifteen years after his untimely death.

KuLouKu/Shutterstock

KuLouKu/Shutterstock

In other news from the nursery world, Q&Z Nursery of Rochelle, Illinois, a major wholesale hosta tissue culture lab, is closing its doors. Although very disappointing, I can’t say I’m surprised. Q&Z, which has operated for 22 years since splitting from its former retail division T&Z, chose its market niche to be a hosta liner supplier to small mom and pop backyard nurseries.

They did this by offering a huge selection of new hostas (over 400 of their own introductions), without much, if any, in-ground evaluation, introducing seemingly every mutation that they found in the lab. If they tissue cultured a variegated hosta and it mutated back green, they would name and introduce the plant, knowing these small nurseries were usually more interested in having new hosta names in their catalog than having the best new hostas. This business model cost them the business of larger, more discriminating retailers, especially because they rarely had good photography of mature clumps of their new introductions…the single most important factor in properly introducing a new plant. Still, a few of their hostas turned out to be good plants that had staying power, including Hosta ‘Diamond Tiara’,  ‘Pineapple Upside-down Cake’, Hosta ‘Radiant Edger’, Hosta ‘Sugar and Cream’, Hosta ‘Sugar and Spice’, Hosta ‘Summer Breeze’,  ‘Summer Lovin’, and Hosta ‘Victory’.

Hosta 'Summer Lovin'

Hosta ‘Summer Lovin’

Once the economy tanked, it took many of the smaller nurseries with it, making it even more difficult for such a business model to be sustainable. The founder/owner, Mark Zilis, is one of the most knowledgeable folks in the hosta world, as witnessed by his landmark hosta book, The Hostapaedia, which you can currently still purchase on the Q&Z website.

We’d like to publicly thank Mark and his staff for their contributions to the world of hostas, and wish them the best in their future endeavors.

Garden Director Needed

In local news, one of our neighboring botanic gardens is in need of a new director. Dr. Peter White, director of the NC Botanical Garden, is stepping down to return to teaching and writing, so the garden is in need of a new director. Interested? If so, you can find out more here.

Wedding Anniversary Flowers

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Yofloma'

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Yofloma’

Do you struggle with what to get that special gardener in your family? Consider giving a wedding anniversary flower. Not only are there designated precious stones to celebrate wedding anniversaries, but there are designated plants. The list below suggests what you might present plantwise.

  • 1st Carnation
  • 2nd Lily of the Valley
  • 3rd Sunflower
  • 4th Hydrangea
  • 5th Daisy
  • 6th Calla
  • 7th Freesia
  • 8th Lilac
  • 9th Bird of paradise
  • 10th Daffodil
  • 11th Tulip
  • 12th Peony
  • 13th Chrysanthemum
  • 14th Dahlia
  • 15th Rose
  • 20th Aster
  • 25th Iris
  • 28th Orchid
  • 30th Lily
  • 40th Gladiolus
  • 50th Yellow rose, violet
  • Source: Wikipedia

Passages

We try to share important life events from the horticultural world, but here’s one we missed. Ken Durio, 84, founder and president of the infamous Louisiana Nursery passed away last fall on October 28. I say infamous because Louisiana Nursery, was always the topic of customer stories whenever plant people gathered to discuss their new acquisitions. From the 1960s through the 1990s, if you wanted a rare plant…especially a woody plant, there were few sources other than Louisiana Nursery of Opelousas, Louisiana.

Hemerocallis 'August Flame'

Hemerocallis ‘August Flame’

While Louisiana Nursery listed virtually every plant you could imagine, to the tune of 5,000 listings in their prime, the quality of the plants you received, combined with the extravagant prices and their less than stellar customer service, made it a major frustration for most consumers. I’ll never forget ordering their $5 catalog in the late 1980s only to get a return note asking which of their 12 catalogs I wanted…at $5 each…the iris catalog, the hemerocallis catalog, the magnolia catalog, etc.

Ken Durio was an avid and knowledgeable plantsman who started Louisiana Nursery soon after graduating from LSU in 1950. Although it seems hard to imagine today, back in the 1950s and 1960s, Louisiana was one of the epicenters of plant exploration and introduction in the US.

By the 1980s, Ken Durio had developed a reputation as one of the most ornery and curmudgeonly nurserymen in the country, which is why, when I was asked to speak in Baton Rouge in 1996, I told them I would only come if they’d take me to meet the infamous Ken Durio. After trying to talk me out of it, they reluctantly relented and off we went. Despite many tales of people being run off the nursery for no apparent reason, I found Ken both welcoming, hospitable, and glad to chat plants. By this time, however, the nursery had become quite run down as sales had dramatically declined. Louisiana Nursery (no relation to the garden center, Louisiana Nursery.com) became a victim of the Internet, as gardeners were now able to find better quality plants cheaper and without so much hassle.

Iris unguicularis 'Purple Snow'

Iris unguicularis ‘Purple Snow’

No matter what you thought of their business, their plant collections and breeding efforts in groups like iris, daylilies, magnolias, and figs were truly remarkable. One of Ken’s surviving sons, Dalton, recently returned home to take care of his dad in the last stages of life and is currently trying to resurrect the nursery. Fingers crossed for a successful re-launch. You can watch his progress at www.durionursery.biz.

Until next month, join us on the Plant Delights blog , where you can sign up and follow our regular posts from the nursery and garden.

-tony and anita

Featured Plants

Bouvardia ternifolia 'Scarlet Hummer'

Bouvardia ternifolia ‘Scarlet Hummer’

Buddleia 'Pink Micro Chip' PPAF

Buddleia ‘Pink Micro Chip’ PPAF

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canna 'Pacific Beauty'

Canna ‘Pacific Beauty’

Harpochloa falx

Harpochloa falx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phlox 'Peppermint Twist' PP# 18,196

Phlox ‘Peppermint Twist’ PP# 18,196

Ruellia 'Black Beauty'

Ruellia ‘Black Beauty’

 

Heuchera ‘Delta Dawn’

Heuchera Delta Dawn6

The coral bells just look fabulous in spring, and here’s a current shot of one of the stars for us, Heuchera ‘Delta Dawn’.  While most of the coral bells we trial die shortly after planting in our hot, humid climate, Heuchera ‘Delta Dawn’ has been a long-lived star.  The foliage is gold in summer, but in spring, the leaf is suffused with an amazing overlay of red.

2011 Plant Delights Nursery April Newsletter

There’s been a lot going on since we last chatted. Spring has come, gone, and now returned. During that time, I spent a week botanizing my way back from a talk in Mobile, Alabama. I made a number of amazing horticultural discoveries including some fantastic trillium finds and I’m hoping to write up the expedition as time permits. While I was gone, the night temperatures back at PDN unexpectedly dropped to 29 degrees F, sending the garden and research staff scurrying to cover the sensitive plants with frost cloth. Due to their hard work, you won’t notice any substantial plant damage when you visit for our Spring Open House.

Speaking of Open House, we’re only a few days away from the start of our annual Spring Open House…April 29-May 1 and May 6-8 from 8am-5pm on Friday and Saturday and 1pm-5pm on Sunday. On the second Saturday, May 7, we’ll be hosting the WPTF’s Weekend Gardener Radio show from 8-11am. We’ll be joined by NC’s own Rufus Edmisten…former Secretary of State, Attorney General, and assistant to the prosecutors in the 1973 Watergate trial. Rufus is quite the gardener, but I’m sure you can get him to chat about almost anything. We are also pleased to once again have Kona Chameleon here to service your caffeine needs while you shop with a variety of coffees, lattes, espressos, etc.

The PDN display gardens are looking pretty incredible with a wide array of plants in flower. I’m lucky to be able to sit outside while I write this, embracing the spring beauty while trying to ignore the noisy flock of robins that make the televison coverage of the Libyan rebels seem tame, as they fight for the last berries from our Nellie Stevens holly hedge. It’s hard to know what to tell you to look for first when you visit. The first flowers of the incredible double yellow Peony ‘Bartzella’ just opened yesterday, so I’m sure some of the 18 flowers on each clump will still be open…more if the temps cool just a bit. The baptisias should also be at peak…if the weather cooperates.

This is such a great time of year for the coral bells and foamy bells as their new foliage almost glows in the spring garden. Two of my favorites, Heuchera ‘Citronelle’ and Heuchera ‘Tiramisu’ are looking fabulous. Some of these clumps are now five-years-old and getting better each year…a far cry from some of the early coral bell introductions that were far too short-lived for us in the east. Hardy geraniums, bush clematis, and amsonia (blue star) all look great this time of year. These are each tough, long-lived stars of the spring garden that I wouldn’t garden without.

An area of great interest that we’ve been focusing on is rain gardens which catch, manage, and clean water runoff. We’d love to show you how to manage your runoff and select great plants that our research has shown love these conditions. Our rain gardens are particularly showy in spring with an incredible display of Louisiana Iris and sarracenia in full flower.

If you’re into odd, phallic plants, we’ve certainly got you covered. How about palms? Have you ever seen a windmill palm in flower? If not, these aren’t to be believed…although for us with a farming background, the flower spikes look like something that should be hanging from a horse in heat. If you’re really lucky, there will also be sauromatum, helicodiceros, and an amorphophallus or two for you to sniff while you’re here. If you’re one of those folks who thinks snorting white powder gives you a thrill, you haven’t lived until you’ve plunged your sniffer into a recently opened amorphophallus…and it’s still legal.

To top things off, our Agave salmiana ‘Green Goblet’ is in the midst of a phallic moment, having just started producing a flower spike last Saturday. It should be up to about 10-14′ tall by the weekend and could possibly be ready to open by the second Open House weekend.

If you just can’t make it to Open House, we request that you send a signed note from your doctor…unless they work for the Wisconsin teachers union, which renders the excuses useless. If your excuse for not attending the Spring Open House is approved, you can find a list of new plants that are ready just in time for Open House on our website. Please remember that many of these items are available in very limited quantities.

We’ve still got a few openings in our Creative Garden Photography Workshop to be held during our Spring Open House on May 7, so if you’re interested, don’t delay in getting registered. Responses from last years attendees were exceptional!

We found out recently that we have been selected as a workshop site for the upcoming North American Association for Environmental Education convention in Raleigh this fall. The meeting, expected to bring 1000+ people to Raleigh, will be held from October 12-15, 2011 at the Raleigh Civic and Convention Center. The workshop/tour at Plant Delights will be on Wednesday October 12 from 1-4:30pm. You must register to attend, and you can do so without registering for the entire conference. You can find out more and register online at http://www.naaee.net/conference

While we’ve had a Plant Delights Facebook page for more than a year, we haven’t publicized it. During this time, we’ve tried to figure how to beneficially use the page, short of telling you what everyone is eating for lunch. We’ve settled on using our Facebook page to keep you up-to-date on nursery news between our monthly newsletters…for example, letting you know that we were okay after the recent tornado outbreak. We also can let you know which nursery crops are particularly huge or just looking great…as we recently did with some greatly oversized hostas. Lastly, one of the really neat features that Facebook presents is the opportunity for you to connect with other PDN gardening friends. This can be particularly useful to share plant information or to fill a bus or car pool to a PDN Open House…wouldn’t it be neat to find a new friend to share the ride from out of town! If you’d like to become a fan of our page, you can click on the Facebook logo on our homepage or you can find us here:

Visit Us on Facebook!

Speaking of tornadoes, our section of North Carolina had quite an outbreak on Saturday, April 16 when 28 tornados touched down in our region…a state record. Five of the tornadoes were rated as EF3, with wind speeds of 136 to 165 mph. I was actually driving back home from talks in coastal Virginia as the storms moved closer and had stopped to botanize a section of woods as the storm headed our way. As it turned out, I got out of the woods just in time, as the area near Roanoke Rapids was devastated only minutes after I left…the things we do for plants! It was surreal driving home, listening to the tornado updates on the radio and altering my route to dodge the storms. Casualties from the tornadoes included 24 people with another 133 injured, 21 businesses destroyed, another 92 with significant damage, and 439 homes destroyed with another 6,189 that sustained significant damage. Thanks to customers around the world…as far away as Sumatra and Indonesia, for checking to make sure we were okay. From now on, we’ve made it easier for you to follow us on Facebook! We were very lucky to have been in an unaffected pocket in the middle of the tornado touchdowns, but our thoughts and prayers go out to those who were adversely affected by the storm.

In the past, we’ve had customers who live near the nursery willing to house new employees (either short or long-term), and we are once again looking for housing for a new employee that will be joining us in late May after finishing up at the University of Georgia. If you have a room available and are interested, please let us know so that we can pass your contact information along to our new employee. You can share your interest by email to Krista at

krista@plantdelights.com
A couple of months back, I mentioned the Chapter 11 bankruptcy auction of Hines Nurseries, formerly the largest nursery in the country. Well, as it turns out, even after the auction, Hines is still in business thanks to some clever legal maneuvering. As you may recall, Hines Nurseries is owned by the hedge fund, Black Diamond Capital Management. For those who don’t know Black Diamond, they also own companies like Sunworld (one of the worlds leading producers of fruit and vegetables) and Werner Ladders (the worlds top producer of ladders).

Black Diamond runs Hines Nurseries through a shell company…a company that exists in name and cash only. Consequently, when Hines Nurseries went bankrupt this past fall, it wasn’t Black Diamond that went bankrupt…only the shell company that operated Hines. Everyone in the industry assumed that Hines would be sold off for the parts…some locations as a nursery, while other locations, like the property in Texas, would become a housing development. Bids were indeed submitted for exactly that, but Black Diamond submitted its own bid by setting up a new shell company. Since Black Diamond submitted the only bid for the entire operation, they won the auction. In doing this, they were able to eliminate the debt from their recent purchase of Bordier’s Nursery of California. Some folks wonder if this wasn’t the plan all along, but I guess we’ll never know. Although many of the other creditors and bidders raised challenges to this legal maneuvering, the judge found that there were no other bids worth considering. The question remains how long Black Diamond will keep Hines operating. As a business, Black Diamond hates the nursery model, which they describe as requiring too much capital and having too much risk. In other words, Black Diamond’s business model of running everything from a complex set of algorithms simply doesn’t work in the nursery business where you have living products which are started, but not sold the same year.

In a spring faux pas, the plants we sold as Iris ‘Oriental Beauty’ were not correct. The plants we shipped were a Dutch Iris, but just not the one we promised. Please email us if you received one of these and we’ll issue a refund or credit…sorry! In other inventory matters, we have also temporarily run out of Colocasia ‘Thailand Giant’ due to some production issues. We should have another crop ready by early to mid June. Thanks for your patience.

In the Top 25 this month, Iris ‘Red Velvet Elvis’ remains at the top of the list with Colocasia ‘Thailand Giant’ close behind, while the great native, Spigelia marilandica has catapulted into the third spot. Gladiolus ‘Purple Prince’ is another surprise visitor to the top 25 in 11th place.

We hope your selections for the Top 25 contest are faring well, and remember you can now monitor their standing.
I’ll end by saying again that we look forward to seeing you at Open House…please say hello, and thanks for your continuing support!

-tony

2010 Plant Delights Nursery March Newsletter

Dear PDN’ers:

So far, it’s been a great spring in Raleigh as we just missed a late spring frost when the temperature dropped to 33 degrees F on March 27, after 3+ weeks of above freezing temperatures. We’ve got a couple weeks that could still have a killing frost, so we’re keeping our fingers…and other body parts crossed until then. I recently returned from speaking to a great group in northwest Arkansas, who weren’t as lucky. Despite being 70 degrees F when I first arrived, I left just before a snowstorm dropped a foot of snow on the region and adjacent to Oklahoma. The area is still recovering from a massive ice storm 2 years earlier that left the region looking like low-end tree pruning firms had a citywide special on tree topping.

We’ve just added a batch of new plants to the web, most are available in a limited supply including some fabulous new hellebores from both Ernie and Marietta O’Byrne ( the Winter Jewels Series), and from Glenn Withey and Charles Price ( the Mardi Gras Series). These amazing plants are not to be missed if you like cool hellebores. We’ve got a small number of the always popular Disporum flavens that we can spare and, as promised, we have a few of the miniature Narcissus ‘Julia Jane’ for those who have a predilection for cute, dwarf narcissus. Four arisaemas have also just been added: A. concinnum, A. kishidae ‘Jack Frost’, A. kiushianum, and our US native, A. triphyllum. Finally, we have a few plants to spare of the amazing golden-leaf bleeding heart, Dicentra ‘Goldheart’, which we haven’t offered in several years.

Click for Web or Open House Only Plants It’s interesting each season to watch what sells and what doesn’t. There are always a few surprises in both directions and topping this year’s list of “why don’t you like me?” is Chrysosplenium macrophyllum. It’s taken us Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Purple Prince’ (Fairy Wings) 10 years to build up enough stock and so far, only 2 of you have indulged. Okay, it’s pretty esoteric and granted, we don’t have any idea how far north it will survive, but how are we going to find out unless you give this plant a try? So, what happened to Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Purple Prince’, which has sold well in the past, but is feeling no love this spring? Perhaps we need to learn Photoshop™, to enhance the image color like one of the Dutch catalogs I was looking through this weekend. I wonder how many folks realize that they are being enticed by totally unrealistic enhancements. I actually thought that using unrealistic enhancements to attract mates for money was illegal …hmmm.

There’s nothing like plant name changes to get gardeners riled up, but these come about due to a variety of different reasons. Just because one taxonomist decides a plant deserves a new name, we don’t jump up and immediately make the change. We give these changes little attention until we have time to study the research to see if it makes sense with our personal experiences. In many cases, these name changes are reversed years later, causing those who want to be the first to jump on a passing bandwagon, to jump off again, and leaving everyone else thoroughly confused. A good example is that of the aroid Sauromatum venosum. In 2000, a couple of my aroid buddies (Aroidiana Volume 23, pg. 48) decided their research showed that sauromatum was actually a typhonium, and subsequently did away with the genus sauromatum. To us, something about that just didn’t smell right…a little aroid pun. Fast forward a decade later and guess what? Sauromatum is being reinstated as a genus and Sauromatum venosum is being moved out of typhonium and back into sauromatum. Note to all of you folks who jumped on the earlier bandwagon…it’s time to disembark. We have the same thoughts about the lumping of cimicifuga into actaea…someone was sniffing too much herbarium dust.

This brings me to the latest taxonomic snafu…trachycarpus palms. For years, we have grown three primary species: Trachycarpus fortunei, Trachycarpus takil, and Trachycarpus wagnerianus. There have been extensive articles written about Trachycarpus takil and the trek to find the real plant to gather seed (Princeps 37(1) 1993, pp 19-25). Guess what we learned in 2009? They gathered seed off the wrong plants. It turns out that virtually everything in cultivation and in writings about Trachycarpus takil is actually a form of Trachycarpus fortunei from the Indian town of Nanital, so this plant is now referred to as Trachycarpus fortunei ‘Nanital’. Although this represents a name change, it is quite different from the example above because this is simply a correction of an earlier error.

While we’re discussing trachycarpus, another problem plant is Trachycarpus wagnerianus. This species was described from a single plant that was being cultivated in Japan and has never been seen or documented in the wild. This is a classic example of poor taxonomy, but was accepted for decades in the past when the opportunity for field studies was more difficult. It is our own and other palm growers contention that this is nothing more than a compact form of Trachycarpus fortunei and therefore, we are changing its name to Trachycarpus fortunei ‘Wagnerianus’. This is not something new, having been proposed since 1977 (Principes Vol 21, 1977, pp. 155-160). I hope these examples illustrate the methods behind the name changing madness, and that all name changes aren’t created equal.

In news from the botanic garden world, Dr. Peter Wyse Jackson, 55, has been selected as the next director of the Missouri Botanic Garden, succeeding Dr. Peter Raven, who had previously announced his retirement. At least the staff won’t have to learn a new name since Peter will be following Peter…there’s probably a great joke in there, but I digress. Jackson is currently Director of the Dublin Botanic Garden in his native Ireland but will assume the directorship of MOBOT (as it is known in botanical circles) on September 1, 2010 and will work alongside Peter Raven until July 2011.

We also recently learned that our good friend, Viki Ferennia, author of Wildflowers in Your Garden (1993), and former assistant horticulturist at Wayside Gardens has taken over as the lead horticulturist at Ohio’s Holden Arboretum. It’s great to have Viki back in public horticulture…congratulations!

The Scott Arboretum has announced Bill McNamara of California’s Quarryhill Botanic Garden as the winner of the prestigious 2010 Scott Medal. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Quarryhill several times and it was great to have Bill finally visit PDN in 2006. Bill has managed the gardens since their inception by the late Jane Jansen who, in 1987, turned part of her vineyard into a repository for wild-collected Asian native plants. Quarryhill is located in the Napa Valley region of California, and if Asian plants are your interest, be sure to drop by when you are in the area.

I was saddened to learn that my longtime friend and sedum breeder, Edward (Crazy Ed) Skrocki passed away on March 23 at the age of 79, only weeks after he was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer. Ed is survived by his sister, Doris Skok of Pennsylvania as well as four nieces and nephews.

Ed was a fascinating man (and I don’t use the term lightly) and the type of character that I also find truly interesting. I first visited Ed 20 years ago on his 30 acre farm in Southington, Ohio (just outside of Cleveland). We pulled up to find a 90lb man in a bee suit – black spandex shorts, a yellow and black striped shirt, and bobbing antennas attached to his head…out pollinating sempervivums (hens and chickens). At the time, Ed claimed to have over 3000 named varieties of sempervivums. Eddie was an eclectic collector of plants with his specialties including hosta, ajuga, sedums, orostachys, and sempervivums. Some of his sempervivum introductions that are still on the market include S. ‘Bedivere’, S. ‘Circus’, S. ‘Climax’, S. ‘Flamingo’, S. ‘Gizmo’, S. ‘Grape Tone’, S. ‘Happy’, S. ‘Icycle’, S. ‘Jewel Case’, S. ‘Kip’, S. ‘Lively Bug’, S. ‘Mars’, S. ‘Montage’, S. ‘Ohioan’, S. ‘Pink Cloud’, S. ‘Royal Ruby’, S. ‘Rubikon Improved’, S. ‘Skrocki’s Bronze’, S. ‘Spanish Dancer’, S. ‘Starshine’, S. ‘Streaker’, S. ‘Utopia’, and S. ‘Witchery’ …to mention a few.

My first trip to have lunch with Ed was in his nursery delivery vehicle.an old Cadillac hearse which drew stares wherever we parked. During the same first trip, Ed took us to see his neighbor, Mike Tyson…yes, the boxer, and although he wasn’t home, we did get to see his massive estate. Ed was also a collector of old cars, in particular hearses and Packards. Ed could often be found selling Packard parts at car shows in the 1980s.

Ed was able to acquire many species of sedums from collectors in China and Germany before anyone else, because he was able to trade on the huge black market for nude matchbook covers (I’m not making this up) in those countries. One of my favorite sedums, Sedum tetractinum, which is now sold around the country, is only in the country because of Ed’s trading prowess. His matchbook cover collection was legendary, and only expanded years ago when his garbage man told him of a widow in Cleveland who discarded boxes of matchbook covers which Ed immediately purchased for a few hundred dollars. Ed estimated there were over 1 million books, all between 1930 and 1960. Ed had a penchant for turning trash into treasure. I remember when he cleared around his pond one year in the late 1980s and subsequently painted bundles of brush, covered them with glitter and voila…glitter twigs, of which he sold thousands.

Did I mention that Ed dug three wells to have water to irrigate his nursery, but to his dismay, he hit natural gas all three times, and finally resorted to buying his water? Ed had a large property that he rented out for groups…he liked to tell folks that he rented the property to gay groups in the summer and straight groups in the winter. Some folks weren’t quite sure how to take Ed, and he frightened off many young men as he jokingly threatened to let the air out of their tires so they couldn’t leave.

Ed allowed us to introduce two of his hosta seedlings to the market, Hosta ‘Patrician’ in 1993 and Hosta ‘Cadillac’ in 1998. Several years ago, I finally persuaded a reluctant Ed to appear on Erica Glasener’s television series, “Gardener’s Diary”. Ed claimed to be miserable doing the show until the finished tapes arrived, which he proudly sent around the world to all of his plant friends. If you ever get to see the show, watch for the repeat of Ed’s fascinating segment. For those of us who corresponded with Ed and received his exhaustive handwritten notes on his trademark pea-soup-green paper, he will be sorely missed…the plant world has lost another of its true characters.

In the “I’m from the government and I’m here to help” files, The National Invasive Species Information Center has reported a new bill regarding invasive plant species has been entered in the Maryland General Assembly. The introduction and reading of this new bill will, according to their website, “…designates 45 plant species as invasive plants and authorizes the Maryland Department of Agriculture to designate additional species of plants as “invasive”, requires retail outlets and landscapers to provide certain disclosures regarding invasive plants and makes a violation of the law a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $500. See Maryland Noxious Weed I.D. (PDF | 500 KB) for the 6 plant species currently regulated in Maryland.” The text in the link also includes a list of the 45 plants which will be designated as “invasive”.

Obviously, the folks who put together this list are nothing more than a bunch of ethnic cleansing eco-nazis, since many of the plants are indeed weeds. Only a few rise to the level of truly invasive plants…those which invade a natural functioning ecosystems, displace natives once population equilibrium has been reached. We used to say that these plants naturalized well which was a selling point. There is a concerted effort by a small but vocal group of folks to use ethnic profiling to limit the use of plants that don’t fit their narrow view of what is acceptably indigenous at their mystically established point in time. Of course, if they really wanted to be taken seriously, that list should first include humans, European honeybees, and earthworms …which are all terribly invasive and unmistakably alien.

As part of our educational mission, we continue to add newly written plant articles to the website. You can find our most recent additions by clicking on the links below. Feel free to link to any of these from your own website and share with friends who may also be interested.

Cypripedium Orchids – Does the Lady Slipper Fit Your Garden? www.cypripediumladyslipperorchid.com (Note: That URL has been retired, The replacement is https://www.plantdelights.com/blogs/articles/cypripedium-orchids)

Buddleia – The Butterfly Bush www.buddleiabutterflybush.com (Note: That URL has been retired, The replacement is https://www.plantdelights.com/blogs/articles/buddleia-davidii-the-butterfly-bush)

Ringing the Coral Bells – The Heuchera and xHeucherella Story www.heucheracoralbells.com (Note: That URL has been retired, The replacement is https://www.plantdelights.com/blogs/articles/ringing-the-coral-bells)

Tiarella – A Crown in the Garden www.tiarellafoamflower.com (Note: That URL has been retired, The replacement is https://www.plantdelights.com/blogs/articles/tiarella-foam-flower)

Hardy Terrestrial Orchids for Southeast Gardens www.hardyorchidplants.com (Note: That URL has been retired, The replacement is https://www.plantdelights.com/blogs/articles/hardy-orchids-in-the-garden)

Echinacea Explosion – The Coneflower Chronicles www.echinaceaconeflower.com (Note: That URL has been retired, The replacement is https://www.plantdelights.com/blogs/articles/echinacea-chronicles-of-the-coneflower-plant)

Winter Hardy Palms for Temperate Gardens www.hardypalm.net (Note: That URL has been retired, The replacement is https://www.plantdelights.com/blogs/articles/cold-hardy-palms-for-temperate-gardens)

Again, we truly thank you for your business.

Please direct all replies and questions to office@plantdelights.com.

Click here to Subscribe, Unsubscribe, or change your email.

Thanks and enjoy

-tony

2008 Plant Delights Nursery December Newsletter

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’s greetings from Plant Delights. We hope you’re having a great holiday season and are already anticipating the upcoming spring season. Much of the country has experienced an early blast of winter, unseen in some areas for decades. Much of the Pacific Northwest got blasted by both cold temperatures and snow, putting a quick end to the “zone denial” that has pervaded that area for decades. The winter storms didn’t stop there as they continued their march across the country, blasting the Midwest and then the Northeast.

Like Elvis, the 2009 Plant Delights catalog has left the building and is on the way to your mailbox. If you can’t wait, the updated website is also ready for your perusal. As always, the on-line catalog has nearly 1000 more items than can be found on the pages of the printed catalog…we hope you can find something to suit your needs. We’ve made a few changes this year due to customer suggestions, most notably a reduction in our minimum shipping charge as well as a reduction in the amount required for a minimum backorder from $35 to $20. For these changes to be economically viable and to remain permanent, they must result in more customers placing smaller orders…fingers crossed.

The writing and production of the catalog involves three all consuming months, so the great joy of completing the catalog is being able to get back into the garden and start reworking beds. Granted it is winter now, but that’s okay in our part of North Carolina. I actually prefer to rework beds in the winter because I can easily see the structure of the garden without the “clutter” of the plants that detract my eye in the growing season. I always advocated the idea that if your garden looks good in the winter, it will look good any other time of year. Unfortunately, most folks only garden for a particular season…most often spring, and the garden looks uninteresting during the remainder of the year.

For those unfamiliar with the gardens here at Juniper Level, all of our planting is done in beds. Each bed was initially prepared using compost so that the entire soil root zone is similar. This is preferable to the commonly used technique of planting in individual holes, which doesn’t take into account that the roots will ever grow outside of the prepared hole. In our renovations we focus on beds that are 10 years old, where we perform a nearly complete renovation by first removing all digable size plants. As a general rule, anything of a 2″ caliper or below is fair game to be dug. This means that deciduous, herbaceous plants must be well marked before they go dormant or they become very time consuming and difficult to locate in winter.

Twenty years ago when we began the gardens, we simply added compost to the mounds of soil and rototilled it in. What seemed like lots of compost 20 years ago turned out not to be nearly enough as the beds became established. Nowadays, we are fortunate enough to have equipment that allows us to mix our own garden/nursery generated compost together with native soil from our property, producing our own garden soil mix. To get enough native soil, we use a commonly established landscape architect technique of balancing cut and fill. In other words, if we want to make a raised bed, we have to construct an equal size sunken bed somewhere else in the garden. By blending our own mix of 40% soil and 60% compost, we create a mix that we can then add directly to our established beds. From fresh garden debris to finished compost mix usually takes us from 8-12 weeks. One of many things we learned decades ago is that old wives tales of not being able to fill around established trees is just that…an old wives tale. The key is to use a well-drained, microbially active soil mix. If you visit during one of our open house days, we’ll be glad to show you trees that have been filled around for more than a decade. These renovations allow us to enrich the soil as well as change the terrain and form of the beds. We have developed a real fondness for raised, sculpted beds which allow us to not only grow more plants (think Pythagorean theorem), but make the plants more visible. Have you ever noticed that some plants in your garden don’t seem to get noticed? Sometimes it’s simply a matter of how they are arranged in relation to each other, sort of like products on a grocery store shelf. Arranging plants in a garden is a bit like painting a picture. You must be conscious of how you use colors, textures, and forms…either by repetition or contrast. No doubt you’ve had some plants that got larger than expected, while others got crowded out by more aggressive neighbors. The renovation process allows these mistakes to be corrected while allowing underperforming plants to be moved around, hopefully to a place that they will grow better.

By spending virtually every winter weekend in the garden, I get to see up close which plants still look great in the winter. Now, those of you in the northern hinterlands, don’t expect me to talk about plants this time of year that will thrive in Zones 4 and 5…first, there are many evergreen perennials for your zones, and any hardy plants would be under snow anyway, so just skip this section unless you have a winter home in the south.

Here at PDN, we had our early blast of winter when we dropped to 17 degrees F on November 21. While it’s impossible to see damage on many plants for quite a while, agaves show damage soon after it happens. Weather too cold for a specific agave results in the leaves turning soft and mushy, while the fragrance of decaying plant flesh fills the air. Agave leaf spotting from cold moisture, on the other hand, may take several weeks to show up. Of the new agaves we were trialing, Agave inadequidens bit the dust along with Agave dasylirioides. Agave ‘Weirdo’, an A. bracteosa hybrid that we had high hopes for, doesn’t look like it will make it either. Plants that we expected to be damaged but were untouched, include Agave atrovirens var. mirabilis, A. durangensis, A. potrerana, A. applanata, A. shrevei, A. schidigera ‘Shiro ito no Ohi’, and the hybrids A. ‘Blue Glow’, and xMangave ‘Bloodspot’.

I talked last month about the wonderful Ruscaceae family members, danae and ruscus, which still look great with their bright red or orange Christmas berries as we reach the first of the year. Along with the arums that I also mentioned last month, these two are a great start for winter interest perennials. Other plants that are also wonderful in the winter garden include the aspidistras or cast iron plants. Aspidistras aren’t held in high regard by folks in the deep south, because they are so common there. But, as we like to say, these aren’t your grandma’s cast iron plants, as the range of available species and cultivars are increasing exponentially. Most aspidistra species are fine down to 0 degrees F, which makes them great garden plants from Zone 7b south, and great house plants for those of you in the northern zones. Even in our garden, aspidistras blend into the background during the growing season, only showing their true structural garden value in the dead of winter. Not only are aspidistras great in the garden, but their foliage is fabulous when included in Christmas wreaths or indoor holiday arrangements.

Another superb winter interest plants are the adult ivies. Thanks to the tireless work of Richard Davis, we are able to offer a number of superb cultivars. Every time I mention adult ivy, people shake their heads or launch into a diatribe about how they hate ivy. Once I get them calmed down, I get to explain about why these plants are so valuable to the landscape. When regular ivy grows up a wall or tree, the leaves become larger each year that the plant climbs. After a decade or so, the plant undergoes a horticultural puberty and switches from being a juvenile to an adult. This includes gaining the ability to have sex and reproduce, while losing the ability to run around. In other words, ivy becomes a shrub growing atop a vine. By taking cuttings from the shrub-like top of the ivy…assuming you can reach it, the resulting plant will act as a shrub instead of a vine. Some of our oldest adult ivies are over a decade old, resulting in 4′ tall x 4′ wide evergreen shrubs. There is a rare occasion that some adult cultivars will throw a juvenile running shoot, but we have found this to be quite rare and nothing a quick snip won’t cure. Just like the juvenile ivies, they come in an array of leaf patterns. Despite their prolific flowering in fall and attractive seed heads in winter, we have seen very little reseeding…less than a dozen plants in 15 years. In some parts of the country, such as the Pacific Northwest, ivies invade natural areas and should never be planted there.

Although not often thought of as winter interest plants, there are few that stand out more in the winter garden than the hardy palms. Palms are completely misunderstood, as evidenced several years ago with a less-enlightened supervisor for the Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department who issued an edict that no more palms could be planted in the city parks. It seems the supervisor didn’t find them regionally appropriate, not realizing that two species used (Sabal minor and Sabal palmetto) were both NC natives with S. minor historically occurring within an hour of Raleigh, and Rhapidophyllum hystrix (needle palms) being native to South Carolina. Palms are commonly grown in more tropical climates and are underappreciated for their winter interest, since in the tropics, few plants grown around them ever go dormant. In our temperate climate, they really stand out in the winter since so much else hibernates in the winter months. The best genera of palms for temperate climates include rhapidophyllum (needle palm), sabal (palmetto palm), chamaerops (fan palm), and trachycarpus (windmill palm).

Other great winter evergreens include the wonderful disporopsis. These evergreen Solomon’s Seals really stand out now, making wonderful 1′ tall x 2′ wide patches in the winter garden. They will get burned a bit if the temperatures drop below 0 degrees F, but until then, they look great.

Another winter favorite is the wealth of coral bells (heuchera). Since they look great all season, some folks forget that they are evergreen and can be used to great effect to brighten the winter garden. I love all the purple leaf forms that grow here, but am particularly entranced with the gold foliage cultivars, especially H. ‘Citronelle’.

While there are a number of evergreen ferns, not all remain attractively evergreen in the winter. Those that do include Dryopteris erythrosora (autumn fern), Dryopteris formosana (Formosan wood fern), Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern), Polystichum tsus-simense (Korean Rock Fern), Pyrrosia (felt fern), and Arachniodes standishii (upside down Fern)

Last, but not least is Helleborus niger, the Christmas rose. There are many different forms, some flowering in early winter, while many of ours are in full flower now. Their large pure white flowers are simply wonderful additions to the winter garden. H. niger prefers a rich, organic soil, but one that doesn’t stay too moist in the summer months.

I hope those of you who qualify as plant nerds are subscribers to The Plantsman magazine. This UK Royal Horticultural Society publication is head and shoulders above all other publications of which I am familiar when it comes to detailed plant information. That being said, it’s not a publication for the average backyard gardener. Editor Mike Grant does a superb job soliciting articles from experts around the world. I’m one of those people who rip articles from magazines and file them according to subject. I was particularly amazed that there were so many great articles in the September issue that I removed virtually the entire magazine and filed it. One great example was a wonderfully detailed article on Musa basjoo, explaining why it is really not native to Japan, but is instead from Sichuan, China. You can find out more and purchase your subscription on their website.

www.rhs.org.uk/Learning/Publications/pubs_journals_plantsman.htm

If you’re looking to sneak out of the house and get a plant fix, consider coming to the North American Rock Garden Society’s Eastern Winter Study Weekend, January 30-February 2 in Reston, VA…just outside of the nation’s Capital. These meetings are always great, but this year’s speaker lineup is quite impressive…despite the fact that your’s truly is included. Please check out the link below and I hope to see you there.

www.wsw09.org/EWSW09index.htm

In the world of gardening, I’m sad to report that the father of NC garden designer Edith Eddleman has passed away after an extended illness. Edith took leave of her Durham home and garden six years ago to return to Charlotte, NC to take care of her elderly parents. Her mom passed away a few years ago, and her father last month. The bright spot is that Edith has begun the process of packing up and moving back to her well-known Durham garden. I know lots of us look forward to seeing Edith back in the gardening world and on the speaker circuit.

A couple of years ago, I mentioned that Dr. Kim Tripp had resigned her post as Director of the NY Botanic Garden to switch careers and start medical school in Maine. Lots of folks had asked about Kim, so I was delighted to hear from her last week for the first time since she left NYBG as she wraps up her school work and prepares to start her first internship. We wish Kim the best of luck as she continues down her new life’s path.

I also mentioned last year that Mark and Louisa of Messenbrinks Nursery had closed down their business, both the wholesale side and their retail store at the NC Farmers Market. I thought that those of you who knew Mark and Louisa would like an update on their whereabouts. They have moved from their farm in the country to a house in the town of Nashville, NC. Louisa is an elementary school art teacher, with a sideline of selling herbs at the Rocky Mount Farmers Market, while Mark has started a new business, The Macho Taco, a Mexican food vending business…see link below. I’m glad to hear that we haven’t completely lost them from the gardening world.

eastnc.craigslist.org/eve/918758798.html

Other news comes from the world of NPR, where gardening doyenne, Ketzel Levine has been a victim of the wave of layoffs at NPR. I’m sure many of you remember Ketzel from her days in Maryland, before she headed to her current digs on the West Coast. I’m sure Ketzel will find enough projects to keep her busy and we wish her the best of luck. You can read more about her plans on her blog.

After 137 years, the New England Flower Show is no more. Plagued by directorship problems (3 fired directors in the last 6 years) and board oversight incompetence, the Massachusetts Hort Society awoke to suddenly realize they were once again deeply in debt and nearly bankrupt. The once-proud society has fired 18 of its 30 employees, including the Flower Show director. As one of many speakers who still have not been paid or reimbursed by the society for talks at the 2008 show, we are not amused. At least not until I received the letter from the society asking everyone who is owed money to consider the debt as a contribution to the society…now that’s funnier than anything I’ve seen on the Comedy Channel. This is the first time in 30 years I’ve been stiffed for an honorarium…shame on Mass Hort! This is the most recent debacle in a series of comical financial mismanagement problems, including the famed 2002 debacle when the society was forced to sell $5.25 million dollars of selections from their rare book collection just to pay bills. Perhaps they should get in line with everyone else for a government bailout.

We are also sad to report the passing (November 16) of lily guru, Edward Austin McRae at age 76. Ed was born in Scotland, but in 1961 went to work for Oregon Bulb Farm in Oregon, where he hybridized lilies for a quarter century. In 1988, he moved to Van der Salm Bulb Farms in Washington where he continued his hybridizing work until he retired in 1995. After retirement, he founded the Oregon based Species Lily Preservation Group, wrote numerous articles and his wonderful book, Lilies: A Guide for Growers and Collectors. McRae’s former wife Judith still breeds lilies for her company, the Lily Nook.

Finally, congratulations to Brian James of Elizabeth City, NC for having the best score in correctly guessing the Top 25 Best sellers for 2008. He wins a $250 gift certificate. For the year, six agaves made the top list along with three colocasias. Salvias, with two entries were the only other genera to be represented by more than one in the Top 30. We hope you’ll try to predict our Top 25 for 2009. You have until Feb 15 to submit your entry for the $250 gift certificate which will be awarded at the end of 2009.

Please direct all replies and questions to office@plantdelights.com.

Thanks and enjoy

-tony

2006 Plant Delights Nursery December Newsletter

The 2007 Plant Delights Nursery catalog is in the mail! If you just can’t wait, the Plant Delights Nursery website has already been updated to the new catalog, so click away at www.plantdelights.com. With 160 new offerings as well as quite a few returning favorites, we hope you will find an array of plants that you can’t live without.

We’d like to thank each and everyone of you for helping to make 2006 our best year in business. As we launch into our 17th year of mail order, we are well aware that we have already exceeded the typical 15-year life expectancy of a mail order nursery. That being said, we continue full-speed ahead, while watching out for the inevitable road bumps along the way. We’d like to thank those of you who have taken time to write kind notes and especially to those who have taken time to post comments on the Garden Watchdog website. We are honored to be ranked as one of the top 30, out of 5498 garden-related mail order companies in the US.

I always look forward to meeting many of you in person as I crisscross the country on the speaking circuit. To see when I’m going to be in your area, check the upcoming “on the road” schedule at www.plantdelights.com.

I’d also like to publicly thank our wonderful staff, without whose dedication and hard work, the success that Plant Delights has enjoyed would not have been possible.

We’ve closed out our 2006 shipping season and will start up again in mid-February. However, if you have a horticultural emergency arise before then, we might be able to help, so don’t hesitate to give us a call. In the meantime, the rest of our staff are keeping the plants healthy and getting the gardens in shape for our next open house.

I hope you have already made plans to attend our 2007 Winter Open House, February 23 & 24 and March 2 & 3, 2007. We’ve got some very special hellebores for you to pick from along with quite a few other winter goodies. Once again, we are coordinating open house days with our friends at Pine Knot Farms of Virginia (about 1hr 15 minutes north of PDN), who hold their winter open house at the same time.

If you live in a large part of the US (except Colorado), you have enjoyed a warmer than normal fall. After a December cold spell, where we dropped to 15 degrees, we have rebounded nicely and have certainly enjoyed the opportunity to continue planting as we re-work older sections of the garden. Continuing the work we started two years ago, older beds are dug and raised using a sandy-clay-compost mix that we blend from on-site materials. We’re now able to add more height and contouring than was possible when many of the beds were initially planted, and the array of new plants is truly exciting.

There is quite a bit of flowering in the garden now, starting with the wonderful winter-blooming Iris unguicularis and the always welcome Helleborus niger. While they aren’t flowering now, arums always provide winter interest in the garden. We continue to expand our arum offerings each year, although many are still available in limited quantities. Although you don’t think of trillium as a winter-interest plant, T. underwoodii emerges every year in December and amazingly endures the cold that follows…. at least in our zone.

Although they don’t flower in the biblical sense, conifers are also a favorite part of the winter garden. Although we don’t offer them through the printed catalog, we are always propagating a few of our favorites for on-line and open-house shoppers. We are continually trying new plants in the garden and are thrilled to have planted our first Wollemia nobilis (Wollemia Pine). This amazing conifer, related to Araucaria was only discovered about ten years ago near Sydney, Australia. Initial reports indicate that it may survive at least 10 degrees F, so we’ve got our fingers crossed. If you’d like to see the plant in person, be sure to ask when you visit during open house.

Since our planting season began in earnest last March, we have added 2000 new plants to the garden. This will be our first winter to test out quite a few of those, including many new plants from Northern Vietnam, Northern Thailand, and many of the South African ferns. So far, it’s been a pleasant surprise to see how many of our new agaves have fared. Agave difformis and many others still look great, while 15 degrees F turned Agave chiapensis into a pile of green slime. Oh well, that’s why we try ’em.

We are pleased to announce the winner of our Top 25 Contest for 2006. Congratulations to Jeanne McClay of Virginia who wins the $250 PDN gift certificate. We’d also like to recognize the rest of the top 5, who were only separated by a scant 356 points… congratulations and thanks for participating.

1. Jeanne McClay of VA 2. Matthew Garrett of NC 3. Bobbie Wright of NC 4. Jacob Toth of Canada 5. Nick Yuro of TX

To enter the Top 25 Contest for 2007 and the chance to win a $250 gift certificate, simply go to www.plantdelights.com, read the instructions and fill in the on-line form or if you would prefer, print it out and fax or send it along. Unlike many contests, there are no strings attached, no costs, and your name doesn’t get passed along to other mailers. The final Top 25 list for 2006 is below:

Final Top 25 Best Sellers for 2006 as of December 29, 2006

1. 5869 Colocasia gigantea Thailand Giant 2. 3695 Zantedeschia aethiopica ‘White Giant’ 3. 6644 Echinacea ‘Evan Saul’ 4. 5660 Nierembergia gracilis ‘Starry Eyes’ 5. 6177 Coreopsis ‘Heaven’s Gate’ 6. 127 Yucca rostrata 7. 5106 Tiarella ‘Pink Skyrocket’ 8. 6698 Heucherella ‘Stoplight’ 9. 4368 Dianthus barbatus ‘Heart Attack’ 10. 1285 Dicliptera suberecta 11. 6128 Canna ‘Phaison’ 12. 4905 Aloe polyphylla 13. 1796 Eucomis ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ 14. 3096 Liriope muscari ‘Peedee Ingot’ 15. 4995 Heuchera ‘Frosted Violet’ 16. 6645 Echinacea ‘Sunset’ 17. 1148 Verbena Snowflurry’ 18. 5247 Agave parryi var. truncata 19. 5566 Gaillardia ‘Fanfare’ 20. 5778 Arisaema triphyllum ‘Black Jack’ 21. 688 Salvia chamaedryoides 22. 3654 Alocasia ‘Portodora’ 23. 4820 Begonia grandis ‘Heron’s Pirouette’ 24. 3880 Trachycarpus fortunei ‘Taylor Form 25. 2317 Muhlenbergia capillaris 26. 5414 Baptisia minor ‘Blue Pearls’ 27. 5341 Sedum telephium ssp. ruprechtii ‘Hab Gray’ 28. 2526 Acanthus ‘Summer Beauty’ 29. 1506 Selaginella braunii 30. 6541 Tricyrtis ‘Lemon Twist’

In other area gardening news, the JC Raulston Arboretum is looking to fill its Assistant Director position. This is a wonderfully exciting position for the right person (PhD or Masters level).

The gardens at the JC Raulston Arboretum are in the midst of a major renovation under the direction of Director Dr. Dennis Werner, who took over the reins a year ago, so drop by if you are in the area and watch the changes progress.

Please direct all replies and questions to office@plantdelights.com

Thanks and enjoy -tony